5 × 5 training is one of the most popular types of training among weightlifters and bodybuilders.
If you’ve been training in lifting heavy weights for some time, we’d bet you’ve had time to train using the 5 × 5 training scheme but Have you been using this style of training correctly?
5 × 5 workouts are a style of training that is best suited to the development of an Olympic strength athlete (powerlifting), but this does not mean that you cannot used for high performance strength training and weight lifting. In fact, many coaches will use a 5-set, 5-rep scheme for mass and strength development.
In this guide, we’ll break down the fundamentals of 5×5 training and help you understand why and how you can use sets and reps to increase the size and strength of your muscles. Let’s get started.
What is 5 × 5 training?
You may have come across this article in your never-ending quest for great high performance workouts, don’t worry, that’s why we’re here. All strength training works with sets and reps.
Generally speaking, reps are the number of times you complete the same exercise within a workout, while sets determine the number of times you rest and continue your reps.
A 5 × 5 is 5 sets of 5 reps. The easiest way to understand how a 5 × 5 works is to use an example.
Bench press – 5 × 5
- Series 1 – 5 reps with 60 kilos
- Series 2 – 5 reps with 70 kilos
- Series 3 – 5 repetitions with 80 kilos
- Series 4 – 5 repetitions with 80 kilos
- Series 5 – 5 repetitions with 70 kilos
In this example you can see that after each set of 5 reps, you will take a short break (usually 1.5 to 2 minutes), increase the weight, and then move on to another set.
Notice that the weight slowly increases and then stabilizes. There are many different methods for weights during a 5 × 5 training scheme; Some would say that you should maintain the weight consistently (always 70 kilos), but this depends on your personal goals and your body.
A 5 × 5 workout is the simplest workout to complete 5 sets of 5 reps for any particular exercise.
5 × 5 training to build muscle mass
Most people who enter a gym do so because they want to make changes. Some people want to lose weight and feel healthier, while others want to gain weight, train with weights, and build a stronger physique.
Building mass with a 5 × 5 workout comes down to three phases:
1. Understanding hypertrophy
Hypertrophy = Increase in muscle cell size.
To stimulate hypertrophy we need to use high resistance (heavy weights) or keep the muscle under tension for a long period of time. When it comes to a 5 × 5 workout, we are not really using high volume (high reps), so we cannot stimulate hypertrophy over time under tension; however, we can do it through high resistance.
Over time, you can gradually increase the weight of each exercise. In this way, you can stimulate size and muscle development without entering the territory of injury or having to complete numerous repetition workouts to gain strength.
2. Do the more complicated exercises
5 × 5 workouts work because you are doing the hardest exercises possible. There is no point going into the gym and training 5×5 on bicep curls.
Traditionally, your 5 × 5 training would look something like this …
NOTE : Please note that many, if not all of the exercises listed above are compound exercises. This means that they are exercises that move through multiple joints and recruit large muscles. Think about getting the most out of your money with each exercise.
3. Train with weights intelligently and progressively
The last and perhaps the most important aspect of a 5 × 5 workout is your ability to create a progressive workout. There is no point in completing this training for a week. If you are training to gain muscle mass, you should consider that it will take several months of training with weights in a smart and progressive way.
Here’s how you can create 5 × 5 progressive workouts:
a. Write down your weights
This may seem obvious, but it will really help you see where and when you can increase the weight of each exercise.
b. Take a few weeks to rest
Every 3-4 weeks or once a month, it is always a good idea to allow your body to rest well. You don’t have to stop exercising but you should allow your body to complete easier workouts that will give you adequate time to recover.
c. Increase the weight in repetitions 3 and 4
You have 5 sets of each exercise. This means that you have time during your training to play with the weights and find what is right for you. Any set should be demanding but you should never train for muscle failure. The best way to increase weights and increase resistance is to make sure that most of the heavy lifting occurs in sets 3 and 4.
Considerations for a 5 × 5 training
No training program is perfect and the 5 × 5 is no exception to this rule. Understanding that you are only targeting the largest muscle groups with compound movements means that you may miss complex aspects of your training.
Before jumping into a 5 × 5 workout, there are some important considerations to keep in mind.
1. Don’t forget the simple exercises
Many people focus on training with compound exercises and heavy weights and forget about the real need to train the smaller muscles that stabilize and protect your strength.
Make sure to allocate at least 1-2 days per week to simple workouts. This way you can work the smaller muscles and movements, such as the core and mobility of the calf.
2. Gaining mass always comes from a caloric surplus
Weight training can help “boost” growth, but without extra calories, you may not see major differences on the scale. Make sure to eat a diverse variety of foods and maintain a caloric surplus to build mass and strength.
3. Brain over muscles
The most important concept to keep in mind is that you should always stick to smart training over heavy training. Some of us can get carried away, perhaps even being a bit competitive with a training partner.
Your goals are your own goals: be smart and train with progressive strength and smart workouts, trust us, this will help you in the long run.
The 5 × 5 weightlifting technique is one of the most comprehensive ways to build strength and size. If you are looking for a simple and effective way to gain weight, a 5 × 5 workout is one of the best ways to achieve this goal.